Suicide is a major public health problem, which affects people of all ages and ethnicities. Despite being preventable, the rates of suicide have steadily climbed (more than a third) over the past 2 decades.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) must be responsible for recognizing suicide risk and providing appropriate treatment referrals in addition to having an important role in suicide prevention. The reasons why NPs may not pursue suicide prevention training are their lack of suicide awareness and prevention, limited experiences with suicidal patients, and the stigma associated with mental illness. Before we begin to address the gaps within suicide awareness and prevention skills, we need to first examine NPs’ knowledge of and attitudes (stigma) toward suicide prevention.
This study will comprise a mixed methods approach. First, quantitative data will be collected using the Suicide Knowledge and Skills Questionnaire and the Suicide Stigma Scale (Brief version) questionnaire. An email will be sent to the NPs explaining the purpose of the study. If they consent, they will click on a link to access the surveys on a secure site. In our previous research with this sample, email reminders to nonresponders after 2 and 4 weeks were sent. The quantitative component will be used to inform the qualitative interviews of this study. The Suicide Knowledge and Skills Questionnaire is a 13-item questionnaire comprising 2 subscales: suicide knowledge and suicide skills. All questions are rated on a 5-point Likert scale (1=completely disagree to 5=completely agree). The survey has been shown to differentiate between those with suicide training and those without and has a Cronbach α score of .84. The Suicide Stigma Scale ( Brief version) is a 16-item survey that assesses stigma regarding suicide. The items are measured on a 5-point Likert scale (1: strongly disagree to 5: strongly agree) and have a Cronbach α of .98.
This study was funded by the Faculty Research Grants program through the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Institutional review board approval was obtained in April 2022. Recruitment occurred between summer and winter 2022. Interview conduction began in December 2022 and will conclude in March 2023. Data will be analyzed during spring and summer 2023.
The study results will add to the literature on NPs’ knowledge of and attitudes (stigma) toward suicide prevention. It represents a first step in addressing gaps within suicide awareness and prevention skills, among NPs in their respective practice settings.